One Simple App to Boost Writing Productivity

Are you as addicted to the internet as much as I am? 

I love it, I do - but it’s the greatest time suck I know.

Nothing gets me out of the zone more quickly than internet surfing. (Do people still say internet surfing? It feels so 90s.) It seems even more all-consuming when there are other things I have to do and don’t want to do or I’m dreading doing them. 

A thorough check of every single social media account, Wikipedia spirals, read a 150k-word fanfic, watch David Mitchell compilation video after video on YouTube – I’ve got a million ways to procrastinate online.

When I know I have to buckle down and really focus, this is what I do:

  • Clear my desk of all non-essentials
  • Get everything I need (materials to work on, snack, drink, laptop charger, hand cream, chapstick – anything that might potentially distract me or make me want to get up)
  • Put my hair up (no idea why this is important, but this signals IT’S TIME TO GET DOWN TO BUSINESS) - and yes, my hair is up as I write this
  • Close the door and trap myself inside the room
  • Toss my phone across the room so it’s not next to me waiting for me to pick it up and just check my email or see who that text was from
  • Close my email so I can’t see or hear any notifications of new emails
  • Turn on the Self-Control app on my computer

This app is genuinely one of the best tricks I’ve ever come across for preventing procrastination. You tell it which sites you’re not allowed to go to (blacklist) and for how long you want to block access to them, and boom, you’re locked out of them for that length of time. You can get at the things you need online (research sources, dictionary, etc.) but all the major distractions are gone. I block all my social media platforms, YouTube, and even Google, and it makes such a difference.

As an internet addict, I can’t tell you how useful this is – my focus is sharp and my productivity skyrockets when I can’t get to my usual sources of digital procrastination. Eliminating the external sources of procrastination in the room is also huge – no temptation to clean or straighten up, no temptation to get out of the chair. All I have to do is sit my butt down and tune in to what I need to get done. I can build in breaks as a reward by setting the timer to expire after an hour or two, but then I’m right back to it and Self-Control is back on again.

Try it and see if it works for you! I swear by it. (They're not paying me for this or anything; I just really love it.)

Self-Control only works for Macs, but there are other Windows-based apps that do similar blocking. Try Cold Turkey or StayFocusd, a Chrome extension.

I’d love to hear what you use/do to combat procrastination! Comment below or let me know on Facebook or Twitter.